New Delhi: Extending its outreach programme in the Far East deeper, India signed a defence partnership agreement with the city state of Singapore, which will allow this tiny country's land forces to use the Indian Army's Babina and Deolali firing ranges for armour and artillery exercises. The two countries already have an agreement which allows the Singaporean air force to use IAF facilities at the Kalaikunda airbase in West Bengal for training purposes.
Under provisions of the new agreement, Singapore will train its ground forces in India over the next five years. The agreement was signed by defence secretary, Vijay Singh, and Singapore's permanent secretary (defence) Chiang Chie Foo.
Under the agreement, India will provide firing range facilities and infrastructure to Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) for the purpose of joint military training and exercises. While the MoD did not specify the amount, Singapore will also pay India for the use of the ranges by its armed forces.
The agreement also allows Singapore to station a small detachment of army personnel and equipment (artillery guns and tanks) at the Babina and Deolali ranges on a permanent basis for the duration of the agreement. ''The agreement provides for temporary detachment of SAF personnel for a maximum period of eight weeks, up to two times a year. However, small detachments not exceeding eight personnel from SAF may be allowed to stay with their equipment stationed in India,'' a defence ministry spokesperson said.
The ministry spokesperson said that besides the bilateral agreement, the two sides also signed associated protocols on training, administration and logistics and financial arrangements.
The agreement comes into effect from Tuesday and shall remain in force for a period of five years.
A Singaporean company is one of two firms in contention for a massive Indian Army contract for the supply of light howitzers. It is not well known that apart from the USAF, the IAF has been receiving exposure to the capabilities of the F-16s and American equipment through the exercises it conducts with the Singaporean air force.